Having explored the nature of unlikely friendships in, amongst other films, 'Intimate Strangers' and 'The Man on the Train', director Patrice Leconte returns to the subject for 'My Best Friend', a film which manages to mix light comedy and heavier themes.

Antiques dealer François (Auteuil) lives for his work and little else. Always chasing the next deal, François' life is about objects, not people. His relationship with student daughter Louise (Durand) is strained while the other person he's 'closest' to, business partner Catherine (Gayet), thinks far more of him than he does of her.

On discovering one night at a dinner date that his acquaintances really don't have that much time for him, François accepts a bet from Catherine: if he can present his best friend within 10 days he gets to keep a €200,000 vase he bought for their showroom earlier that day.

More worried about keeping the vase than the fact that he's reached middle-age without anybody to call a friend, François sets about trying to find someone who can fit the bill. But the person who enters François' life by chance turns out to be his exact opposite: Bruno (Boon), a motormouth taxi driver with a stunning command of facts and trivia. 

Leconte's film won't make you laugh out loud but it does provide quite a few smiles and, more memorably, gives you something to think about afterwards. Behind the chalk-and-cheese pairing of Auteuil's François and Boon's Bruno 'My Best Friend' has interesting things to say about loneliness and how people make life bearable by immersing themselves in careers, hobbies or objects when other people aren't available.

Intriguingly both the self-centred François and ever-sociable Bruno have the same problem: a reluctance to get close to others. Unlike François, Bruno can talk to anyone but like the older man, he doesn't make deep connections. "Friendship's a myth," he says in one scene, "Everybody's the same as nobody."

But lest you think this film hits the depths of despair, it's pleasant to watch the whole way through and will leave you happier than you were at the opening credits. The acting is excellent, the pacing is great and Leconte fits all the pieces together with an ending that sees both François and Bruno doing the exact opposite of what was expected of them.

Harry Guerin